How to enable Find My Device on your Android phone (and why you should)

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Have you ever lost your phone? When you did, did they ever locate it? If not, did it ever happen that someone with bad intentions could find that phone, break in and… well, you know the rest of that story? According to Identity Theft Awareness:

  • About 12% of phone thefts lead to fraudulent charges.
  • 9% lead to identity theft.
  • About 60% of smartphone theft victims file police reports.
  • 10% of victims make no effort to recover their phones because they don’t know where to start looking.
  • Victims of phone theft are likely to pay between $500 and $1,000 to get their personal data back.
  • 44% of thefts occur because the victim left their phone unattended in public.
  • 14% of phones are stolen in robberies.
  • 11% of phones are stolen directly from the owner.
  • Phones are more likely to be stolen in the middle of the day.
  • The most popular locations for phone theft include restaurants, bars, nightclubs, workplaces, public transportation, and the street.

The only positive result would be if the person who found the phone returns it to you. In fact, that has happened to me (on the one occasion when I lost my phone). I’m not saying that won’t happen, but the reality is that you need to plan accordingly.

One of the first things you can do is enroll your phone in Google’s Find My Device feature. It is free and the benefits you get from it are very important.

Also: 5 Quick Tips to Improve Android Security Right Now

As for what you get from the feature, the list is pretty short but so sweet. Once your phone is enrolled in Find My Device, you can:

  • Send him a sound, in case you know he’s in the building but don’t know where.
  • Lock your device and sign out of Google.
  • Erase the device.

Once upon a time, you could also change the password of a device. But due to new features, such as biometrics, that is no longer possible. Even without that feature, the peace of mind you can get from performing a factory reset on a lost phone is worth the few seconds of time you’ll spend enabling the feature.

Also: Best Android Phones: ZDNET’s Top Picks

That’s right, it’s very simple. Let me show you how.

What is Find My Device and how to enable it for your Android phone

This will work on devices running Android 8.0 and up, so these steps should apply unless your phone is older than two years.

The first thing you need to do is open the Settings app, which can be done by swiping down twice for the notification shade and tapping the gear icon, or by opening the Settings app from the App Drawer.

In the Settings app, you’ll see an entry for Security. Tap that entry.

Android security settings list.

The security option can be easily accessed from Settings.

Image: Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Within the Security page, you should see a list for Find my device. Touch that list.

The Find my device list in Security.

To enable the feature, you must first tap Find my device.

Image: Jack Wallen/ZDNET

On the resulting page, tap the ON/OFF slider for Use Find My Device until it is in the ON position.

Find my device button ON/OFF.

Enabling Find My Device in Android 13.

Image: Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once you’ve enabled Find My Device, open a web browser on your desktop or laptop computer and go to Give the service a bit of time to register your device and it will show up. When you see it listed, consider yourself tied to your phone, whether you know where it is or not.

The Find My Device sidebar.

My Pixel 7 Pro listing in Find My Device.

Image: Jack Wallen/ZDNET

When to use Find My Device

The truth is, we all lose our phones from time to time. Those phones can usually be located fairly quickly, but if you’ve searched your home, car, and workplace, that might be a good time to head over to the above website and take action.

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If you think you might know where the phone is, but you can’t get to it right away, I recommend going to the website and securing your phone. If you are pretty sure it was stolen, without hesitation, you would wipe the device. And that last point is key, do not doubt it. Even if you delete it and find it, you can always just sign back into your Google account and some of your data will be restored (but not all).

The Find My Device feature should be considered a must. Make sure your Android phone is signed in to the service, so if your phone is lost or stolen, the option to wipe it is just a click away.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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